Marvel boss Kevin Feige and Eternals director Chloe Zhao have explained why the studio decided to gender-swap two of the characters from the source material. The film is based on a more obscure series of comics about a team of immortal beings who were created during experiments on early humankind 7,000 years ago.
However, Jack Kirby’s original comic series didn’t represent the same level of diversity that Marvel Studios is going for. In the Eternals movie, our heroes come from a variety of different genders, ethnicities, and sexualities.
Moreover, within the comics, Makkari, Ajak, and Sprite are all male characters. But in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they will be played by Lauren Ridloff, Salma Hayek, and Lia McHugh, respectively. Since the team’s original casting announcement at San-Diego Comic-Con 2019, fans have been wondering why so many characters were changed for the movie.
Following the world premiere Kevin Feige, Chloe Zhao, and several members of the cast and crew explained Marvel’s decision. “Eternals is all about the history of humanity,” Feige said. So it was important to have a diverse cast of heroes who resemble a cross-section of humanity” (via The Direct).
He added that Marvel couldn’t do a movie about the history of humanity without the heroes looking like a cross-section of humanity. And that is really what the goal was. Zhao added that those decisions were already made in the treatments she read before she joined the project. Additionally, the director revealed that the characters gender-swapped were very specifically chosen – such as the Eternals’ leader Ajak being “the mother figure” to the group.
Eternals will be the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was directed by Chloé Zhao who wrote the screenplay with Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo. The film stars an ensemble cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie.
The story is set when the return of half the population in Avengers: Endgame ignites “the emergence”. This means, the Eternals – an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years – have to reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants. For anyone not familiar with comic book lore, the movie fits right in with the original story. The only difference is the gender-swapped characters which will have no bearing on the plot.
Created by Jack Kirby, The Eternals made their Marvel comics debut in 1976’s The Eternals #1. The story follows a fictional race of humanoids, described as an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth. The original instigators of this process, the alien Celestials, wanted the Eternals to be the defenders of Earth. This leads to the inevitability of war against their destructive counterparts. Marvel’s Eternals will hit theaters worldwide on November 5th.